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October 20, 2016

Prevailing wage law expanded to include service workers in Philadelphia

Provision takes effect immediately for university, hospital, stadium employees

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney on Thursday signed legislation that expands the city's prevailing wage law to include service workers at publicly-subsidized institutions.

The law, passed unanimously by City Council on Oct. 8, encompasses service employees at universities, hospitals, stadiums, the Convention Center and other institutions — both corporations and non-profits — that receive government funds.

“People usually associate the word ‘poverty’ with ‘unemployment,’” Kenney said. “But the fact is, a good number of Philadelphians who are employed still find themselves struggling in poverty. This measure marks an important step towards assuring that low-wage employees receive a family-sustaining wage.”

A prevailing wage is generally defined as the hourly rate, benefits and overtime paid to the majority of workers within a particular area and is often tied to the wages negotiated by unions.

Philadelphia has had a prevailing wage ordinance since the 1950's. The measure was expanded in 2008 to include building service workers such as janitors, security guards and building engineers at commercial office and residential buildings. Eight years later, Mayor Kenney and City Council have extended the same provisions to employees at universities, hospitals and other non-profit institutions.

The law takes effect immediately. 

“By expanding prevailing wage requirements, we are ensuring that thousands of hardworking Philadelphians and their families will see a long-overdue raise,” said the measure’s primary sponsor, At-Large Councilwoman Helen Gym. “We can no longer let public resources subsidize poverty wages.”